Big Tech &
Google Duplex launches on the web, starting with movie tickets (2 minute read)
Duplex is launching as 'Google Assistant in Chrome' and it will be able to help users buy movie tickets. Users can interact with an interface presented by Assistant instead of navigating ticketing websites. Duplex for movie tickets supports more than 70 cinemas and ticketing services. It can currently also make restaurant reservations. Google hopes to expand its abilities in the future, with car rentals coming next.
WeWork lays off 2,400 employees (2 minute read)
2,400 WeWork employees will be laid off as the company cuts costs and resizes its business. WeWork is aiming to create a more efficient and focused organization. This layoff represents 19 percent of WeWork's total workforce. Former employees will receive severance, continued benefits, and other forms of assistance. The job cuts have been rumored for some time now. WeWork pulled its IPO filing after investors expressed concerns over the company's mounting losses and unusual corporate governance structure. Adam Neumann, one of WeWork's cofounders, has since stepped down from his role as CEO. WeWork almost ran out of money but secured a bailout from SoftBank, its biggest investor. It continues to bleed cash, with $1.25 billion in reported losses for the third quarter.
This ‘robot lawyer’ can take the mystery out of license agreements (5 minute read)
A new service from DoNotPay aims to help customers understand license agreements. DoNotPay is a robot lawyer service that helps people contest parking tickets and even sue people. Do Not Sign is included with DoNotPay's $3 monthly subscription fee. It uses machine learning to highlight important clauses in contracts. The service will identify and explain any issues or loopholes that it finds in license agreements that users upload or link. Do Not Sign was developed in order to help customers take advantage of any rights they might be owed by signing contracts. It can help users find and opt-out of certain terms, and it can also help send letters on customers' behalf. There are around 200 key terms that the service searches for in contracts. The system is not perfect, and may miss some terms. It may sometimes offer incorrect or incomplete advice, or advice that is difficult for the user to understand. Do Not Sign is now available in the US and DoNotPay hopes to launch the service in the UK by the end of December.
Alphabet’s Loon balloons will provide internet to remote parts of the Amazon next year (1 minute read)
Loon is a company owned by Alphabet which makes high-altitude balloons that can provide mobile internet. The company has signed a commercial agreement with Internet Para Todos Perú to provide internet to parts of the Amazon rainforest starting in 2020. It will initially provide service to an area where nearly 200,000 people live. Peru will be the first country in Latin America to use high-altitude balloons to provide internet connectivity on a sustained, non-emergency basis. Loon has two other commercial contracts, one with Telkom Kenya and one with Telesat, a Canadian satellite company.
Programming, Design & Data Science
EasyDB allows users to create a hosted database in the programming language of their choice in just one click. It is made for simple projects and hackathons. EasyDB is not recommended for projects that need super high availability or lots of transactions. Databases only last for around 24 hours by default. This can be extended to 72 hours with an account, or made persistent for $5 a month.
Developer Roadmaps (Website)
This site contains step by step guides and paths to learning different tools and technologies. It includes guides for becoming a frontend developer, backend developer, DevOps, full-stack developer, or a QA engineer. Users can contribute to the project or request changes and additional information.
Her Amazon Purchases Are Real. The Reviews Are Fake (13 minute read)
Customers are being reimbursed for their Amazon purchases in exchange for positive reviews. In order to have a successful business on Amazon, vendors must have good reviews and a high search ranking. Third-party sellers often find it difficult to attract genuine customers to receive reviews when starting their businesses. Amazon has banned giving away free products in exchange for reviews, but sellers still get away with it. Sellers reach out to customers through targeted Facebook ads, giving them specific instructions for purchasing items and receiving reimbursements after leaving 5-star reviews. Using this method, customer purchases look legitimate. Having a front-page product on Amazon can be incredibly profitable, making these strategies attractive for blackhat sellers. Many of these sellers are in China. Some customers are able to gain additional benefits by earning rewards points and cash back from credit cards.